Southwest Georgia dam failures drill planned - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Southwest Georgia dam failures drill planned

DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) -   Lessons learned from the Flood of 1994 have not been forgotten. 
An emergency exercise simulating dam failures in Cordele and Albany will be conducted soon.
Emergency management agencies and first responders from across Southwest Georgia will join Georgia Power and the Crisp County Power Commission for the emergency drill. Because we all know it could really happen.

 In September Georgia Power will conduct an emergency action plan drill with emergency management and first responder agencies.  They will simulate a dam failure at both the Crisp County Power Commission's Lake Blackshear Dam and Georgia Power's Flint River dam.  Much like what happened during the 1994 flood.

Georgia Power EAP Engineer Billy Brundage said "In 1994 in the peak of the flood there was a very small difference in the elevation of the water upstream and downstream of the dam.  Like I said, we were sort of a speed bump in the river."

The agencies will work on clarifying their roles and responsibilities, and how to work efficiently together.

Dougherty County EMA Deputy Director Jim Vaught said "It's always better to be prepared.  Know who you are going to deal with ahead of time, rather than trying to make friends and who does what during the actual event."

During the Flood of 1994 thousands of homes and buildings were flooded, and dozens were killed, thousands left homeless.  The idea of this drill is to prevent as much loss of life and damage as possible.

Brundage said "We want to make sure that the word gets out. That people get evacuated. That roads get closed.  That we try to keep people out of harm's way to the best of our ability."

From the emergency management side, they welcome the chance to plan and train in a controlled environment.

Vaught said "We learn from disasters. We hope that we can implement those so that we don't have the same problems in the future."

Georgia Power holds an exercise drill like this every 5 years, for each of their hydro electric dams in Georgia.  They say usually the municipalities and agencies involved are eager, because they know a real disaster could happen.

Georgia Power planners say they are eager to make sure the media is also involved in the drill, to communicate and keep everyone in the community informed of the facts. That drill is scheduled for September.

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